Top Major Shockers

By John HawkinsJuly 19, 2010, 7:44 pm

The no-name with the long name didn’t just win – he won by seven, a margin no less startling than the identity of the champion himself. Most guys who come out of nowhere to swipe a major title do it on the final holes of the tournament, and in many cases, they capitalize on the mistakes of others to complete their improbable dream. One man’s career-defining victory is usually another man’s indigestible loss.

Not this time, though. Not even close. Louis Oosthuizen, the formerly anonymous South African who carries a ton of vowels and twice as much poise, dominated the 2010 British Open so convincingly that it seems preposterous to think he was invisible a week ago. Some first-time major champs look like they’re just getting started, others like we’ve seen everything they’ve got, and while it’s easy to get carried away in the moment, this guy looks nothing like the second coming (and going) of Michael Campbell.

There isn’t a tour pro alive who moves the club through the contact zone with more grace and less effort than Oosthuizen. His golf swing, like those of fellow countrymen Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, is a beautiful thing to watch – exceptional rhythm, perfect tempo, the type of balanced, flowing finish that belongs in an instruction video.

Oosthuizen’s life, however, has undergone major reconstruction in the last several months: a first child, a claret jug, and now, the burden of expectations. We’ll see how he handles it, but in becoming the fourth supersized surprise to win a British Open since 1999, he hardly qualifies as the most unlikely major champion of the Tiger Woods era. Misery loves company, but as this ranking of shockers might attest, so does success.

1. Ben Curtis (2003 British) – He gets the top spot for a couple of reasons. One, he was a winless PGA Tour rookie, 396th in the world ranking, when he traveled to England, without a caddie, no less, to compete in his first major championship. Two, Curtis prevailed with four of the game’s best players nipping at his heels. Thomas Bjorn should have won the tournament. Woods could have won the tournament. Vijay Singh and Davis Love III were right there, too, but when a golf course gets crazy, so does the bounce of the ball late Sunday afternoon.

2. Y.E. Yang (2009 PGA) – Woods had won 14 consecutive majors when leading after 54 holes, a streak Yang ended, but when you think about it, Tiger was going to lose one sooner or later. The fact that he got to 14 is mind-blowing in a game where the third-round leader wins about half the time. Yang had won the Honda Classic five months earlier, but that’s no attempt to downsize his landmark achievement. Woods’ on- and off-course troubles since help explain what happened last August at Hazeltine.

3. Todd Hamilton (2004 British) – A triumph very similar to Yang’s, as Hamilton had also won the Honda and basically had to knock off one superstar (Ernie Els) to claim his prize. It was an exciting final round, one that featured Phil Mickelson’s only foray into contention at a British, but the four-hole playoff between Hamilton and Els was decided on the Big Easy’s bogey at the par-3 17th. Els hasn’t been the same since. Come to think of it, neither has Hamilton.

4. Shaun Micheel (2003 PGA) – Some might rank this one higher because Micheel basically fell off the face of the competitive Earth immediately afterward, unlikely ever to return. It was a strange week on a very difficult course, reflected by a leaderboard full of guys you’d never suspect would become major champions. The Micheel-Chad Campbell duel down the stretch was fun to watch, however, and when the winner parked a 7-iron inches from the flag on the 18th, his 15 minutes of fame was already winding down.

5. Paul Lawrie (1999 British) – One glass slipper shattered on the 72nd hole, another discovered in the ensuing four-hole playoff. Jean Van de Velde’s unforgettable train wreck on Carnoustie’s 18th obviously turned Lawrie into the most serendipitous of Cinderellas, but this was a tournament all but ruined by a ridiculous course setup. Six over got you into the playoff, which included Justin Leonard, and though Lawrie was outstanding in overtime, it was the last we’ve seen of him.

6. Michael Campbell (2005 U.S. Open) – Another case of a peculiar champion on a golf course that had gotten out of control. Neither man in Sunday’s final pairing (Goosen, Jason Gore) broke 80, clearing the way for Campbell, who had contended at the 1995 British and collected a half-dozen or so notable victories worldwide. Woods was the only guy to apply any heat on the final nine, but a bogey on the 16th ended any chance he had. As former USGA setup man Tom Meeks proved that week, even a classic layout such as Pinehurst No. 2 can become a trampoline if you mess with it enough.

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7. Louis Oosthuizen (2010 British) – As spectacular as he looked at St Andrews, he still showed up with virtually nothing in terms of major-championship credentials. Despite a formidable list of guys within striking distance (Paul Casey, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson), nobody so much as threw a scare at the South African. To say the best player won this tournament, however, is a statement that cannot be argued.

8. Rich Beem (2002 PGA) – He arrived at Hazeltine hot, having won at Castle Pines the two weeks prior, and left on fire, surviving a torrid finishing kick from Woods, who had birdied the final three holes while playing two groups ahead. Like Hamilton and Michael Campbell, Beem’s major title looks more surprising now because he hasn’t won since. The likeable Beemer will always be remembered for the little jig he broke into after tapping in at the 18th to defeat Tiger by one. As victory dances go, that ranks a lot higher than eighth.

9. Trevor Immelman (2008 Masters) – We don’t get a lot of stunners at Augusta National because the field is smaller, but this one makes the bottom of my list with mixed feelings. Immelman remains an exceptional talent who was highly touted upon turning pro in 1999, but his career has failed to approach even modest expectations. He won the ’08 Masters without a fight, much like Oosthuizen did Sunday, which might have as much to do with the surprise factor as the guy who ends up hoisting the trophy. You can analyze this crazy game all you want but sometimes, things just don’t make a whole lot of sense.

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Davies headlines field at Senior LPGA at French Lick

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 14, 2018, 10:40 pm

Laura Davies will be looking to win her second senior major championship this year when she tees it up in Monday’s start of the Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick Resort in Indiana.

Davies, who won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open in July, will join a field that includes fellow World Golf Hall of Famer Jan Stephenson, who was announced last week with Peggy Kirk Bell as the Hall’s newest members. Hall of Famers Juli Inkster and Hollis Stacy are also in the 54-hole event.

Trish Johnson is back to defend her title after winning the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship a year ago. Brandi Burton, Jane Geddes, Helen Alfredsson and Liselotte Neumann are also in the field of 81 players who will compete for a $600,000 purse, with $90,000 going to the winner.

Golf Channel will televise all three rounds live from 4-6 p.m. ET on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Langer (65) wins regular-season finale by six

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 10:07 pm

CARY, N.C. – Bernhard Langer ran away with the SAS Championship on Sunday to take the points lead into the PGA Tour Champions' Charles Schwab Cup playoffs

Langer shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 for a six-stroke victory in the regular-season finale.

''I just played very solid all day long,'' Langer said. ''Putted well, hit the ball where I was looking and did everything exceptionally well.''

The 61-year-old German star has 38 victories on the 50-and-over tour, also winning this year near Houston. He has a record four victories after turning 60.

''I don't have anything to prove, but I still have golf,'' Langer said. ''I still want to improve my own game. I still want to play to the best Bernhard Langer can play. I don't think I need to prove anything, but I love competing, I love winning or being in the hunt. As long as I can do that, I think you're going to see me out here.''

Langer finished with a tournament-record 22-under 194 total at Prestonwood Country Club, the tree-lined layout softened by heavy rain Thursday from Hurricane Michael. He opened with a 62 on Friday to match Gene Sauers and Tom Lehman for the lead, and had a 67 on Saturday to remain atop the leaderboard with Sauers.

Full-field scores from the SAS Championship

''The 10 under was amazing,'' Langer said. ''I couldn't believe there were two other guys who shot 10 under.''

The four-time Charles Schwab Cup winner also won at Prestonwood in 2012.

''It's always fun to go back to where you've won before because you feel like you know how to play the course and you're somewhat comfortable and that's certainly the case here,'' Langer said. ''I've been probably 50, 70 times now around this golf course and I know how to play every hole.''

Scott Parel was second, closing with a double bogey for a 65.

''Bernhard is just in his own world this week,'' Parel said.

Jerry Kelly had a 68 to finish third at 15 under, and Lehman followed at 13 under after a 71.

Sauers shot a 75 to tie for fifth with Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) at 12 under.

The top 72 players in the Schwab Cup standings qualified for the playoffs, the three-event series that begins next week with the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Va. Dan Forsman tied for 56th to jump from 74th to 72nd, edging John Huston for the final spot by $932. Huston tied for 46th.

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Pepperell captures British Masters, eyes Augusta

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 5:29 pm

WALTON HEATH, England -- Eddie Pepperell won his second European Tour title with a two-shot victory at the British Masters on Sunday and likely secured the even bigger prize of a place in next year's Masters at Augusta National.

The Englishman shot an even-par 72 and held off his playing partner, Sweden's Alexander Bjork (71), as the pair went to the 72nd hole at a wet and windy Walton Heath with Pepperell just a stroke in front.

Pepperell finished on 9-under 279.

Herbert Lucas (69) and Jordan Smith (73) were tied for third, another two shots behind Bjork.

English pair Sam Horsfield (69) and Tom Lewis (70) along with American Julian Suri (74) tied for fifth, one shot in front of tournament host Justin Rose (70).

The victory takes Pepperell into the world's top 35 and almost certainly secures a first appearance at Augusta in 2019. The top 50 at the end of the year are guaranteed a place in the first major of the year in April.

Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood (72) finished 2 under in a seven-way tie for ninth.

Full-field scores from the British Masters

A top-two finish on Sunday would have seen Rose reach the top of the world rankings for the second time this season, the 38-year-old having spent two weeks as No. 1 in September

Pepperell was ranked outside the top 500 as recently as May last year, but won the Qatar Masters in February and followed a runner-up finish in the Scottish Open with a tie for sixth in the British Open seven days later, carding a closing 67 at Carnoustie despite saying he had a hangover.

His three-shot overnight lead was down to a single stroke on Sunday when Bjork covered the front nine in 34 and Pepperell three-putted the ninth, the same hole where he enjoyed a spectacular hole-in-one on Thursday.

However, the 27-year-old Pepperell promptly holed his second shot to the 10th from 122 yards for an eagle to move three clear and a par save from off the green on the 14th looked to have sealed the win.

There was still time for some late drama, though, as Pepperell dropped shots on Nos. 15 and 16 to see his lead cut to a single shot, but Bjork bogeyed the 18th after driving into the heather and Pepperell saved par from a greenside bunker.

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Disappointed Sharma fades to T-10 at CIMB

By Will GrayOctober 14, 2018, 1:46 pm

For the second time this year, India's Shubankhar Sharma watched an opportunity for a breakthrough win turn into a learning experience.

Sharma burst onto the scene in March, taking a two-shot lead into the final round of the WGC-Mexico Championship only to fade to a tie for ninth. It was a similar story Sunday at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, where Sharma started the final round in a three-way tie for the lead but struggled to an even-par 72 that dropped him into a tie for 10th.

"Disappointing, not really happy with the way I finished," Sharma told reporters.

Full-field scores from CIMB Classic

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The 22-year-old was 1 over for his first six holes, but he battled back with four straight birdies on Nos. 7-10 to get within three shots of eventual winner Marc Leishman. But his tee shot at the par-3 11th found the water, leading to the first of three straight bogeys that ended any hopes of victory.

"That was probably one of the worst swings of the day," Sharma said. "That 11th hole I think killed the momentum for me. A par there would have gone a long way, and I probably could have made more birdies after that."

Sharma remained optimistic this spring following his final-round fade in Mexico, and he retained a positive mindset despite a rough afternoon as he eyes upcoming starts at both the CJ Cup in South Korea and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

"Great experience. Very, very good to have two top-10s on the PGA Tour, so that's a good way of looking at it," he said. "Also, it pushes me to keep playing well. I feel like I have it in me to win out there on the PGA Tour, and I've given myself two opportunities. Game is in a decent place now."